July 06, 2012|Reuters
MLB Team Report – New York Mets – INSIDE PITCH
Now that R.A. Dickey is a first-time All-Star at age 37, the knuckleballer is aiming to start the game for the National League.
But he might have put that assignment in jeopardy by giving up five runs to the Phillies in seven innings Thursday, saving one of his worst outings of the season for his final start of the first half. Dickey ultimately escaped with a no-decision when David Wright’s single off Jonathan Papelbon gave the Mets a walk-off 6-5 victory.
Earlier Thursday, National League manager Tony La Russa indicated on a conference call that he might be wary of starting Dickey because of how difficult it is to catch his knuckleball. Rather than ask the NL’s starting catcher, 25-year-old Buster Posey, do the honors, La Russa could start somebody else and have Dickey pitch to more experienced backstop Yadier Molina later in the game.
« I’ve given that a lot of thought, but there is an issue about catching him and what spot to use him, » La Russa said. « His season has gotten everyone’s attention, including our staff’s, and we’re talking about the best way to win the game with our personnel, and how we use Dickey will be a part of that. »
There might have been outcry over such a decision had Dickey’s statistics been so good that they demanded a start. And for most of the first half, they were. But now that Dickey has just one quality start in his last three outings, his ERA has increased to 2.40, its highest mark in nearly a month.
Then again, Dickey’s primary competitor for the start, San Francisco’s Matt Cain, gave up three runs Thursday to increase his own ERA to 2.62. Dickey also has 12 wins to Cain’s 10 and 123 strikeouts to Cain’s 118. Statistics aside, it would be an intriguing human interest story for the born-again knuckleballer to start his first All-Star Game at age 37.
Now that Dickey’s first half is complete, that decision is entirely in La Russa’s hands.
« You walk that thin line, » Mets manager Terry Collins said. « The game means something now. I appreciate the fan votes, I think it’s great. But at the same token this game means something, so the best players should be out there. »
MLB Team Report – New York Mets – NOTES, QUOTES
–CF Andres Torres was out of Thursday’s lineup with lower back pain. On the disabled list earlier this season with a strained left calf, Torres has been starting regularly against left-handed starting pitchers ever since. But he did not play Thursday against Phillies lefty Cole Hamels and is day-to-day.
–OF Kirk Nieuwenhuis was back in Thursday’s lineup after missing two games with inflammation of the ulnar nerve in his right hand. Nieuwenhuis injured the nerve taking a batting practice swing Tuesday but said he felt « much better » two days later. As a result, he started in center field in place of Andres Torres, who typically plays against lefties but was slowed by lower back pain.
–LF Jason Bay is scheduled to fly to Florida on Friday to begin the next phase of his rehab from a concussion. Bay, who has been sidelined since crashing into Citi Field’s left-field wall on June 15, hopes to return to the Mets shortly after the All-Star break.
–3B David Wright capped a ninth-inning rally Thursday with his seventh career game-ending hit, punching a bloop single into shallow right field. Wright homered and singled earlier in the game, finishing 3-for-5. Over his last nine games, he has driven in 18 runs.
–OF Scott Hairston hit a solo homer off Phillies left-hander Cole Hamels on Thursday, giving him 12 home runs on the season. Seven of those have come against lefties, whom Hairston has hit at a .307 clip.
BY THE NUMBERS: 4 — Organizations RHP Chris Schwinden has played for since the Mets designated him for assignment June 2. The Blue Jays, Indians and Yankees all claimed Schwinden off waivers and later released him before the Mets claimed him yet again on Thursday. Schwinden will report to Triple-A Buffalo.
QUOTE TO NOTE: « I’m certainly not going to talk to Tony La Russa about strategy. He’s one of the best in the game, if not the best in the game. » –Manager Terry Collins on whether he will lobby for NL manager La Russa to start RHP R.A. Dickey in the All-Star Game.
MLB Team Report – New York Mets – ROSTER REPORT
–CF Andres Torres (lower back pain) was out of the lineup July 5. He’s day-to-day.
–OF Kirk Nieuwenhuis (sore left hand) was injured in batting practice July 3, but it wasn’t bad enough to relegate him to the disabled list. He was back in the lineup July 5.
–RHP Frank Francisco (strained left oblique) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to June 23. He planned to begin throwing off flat ground in early July at the team’s spring training complex in Port St. Lucie, Fla.